"A remarkable synthesis of ethnography about infertile Egyptian women's attempts to have children, history of the development of Egyptian medical ideas and practices from ancient times, and contemporary political and economic analysis."—Lingua Franca
"Inhorn invokes in her vivid description of her informants' dilemmas and convincing analysis of their explanations of their infertility a combination of variables; gender issues are interwoven with political domination, colonial history, indigenous religious beliefs, economic problems such as poverty and deprivation, state policies regarding family planning and a whole series of interrelated areas."—Middle Eastern Studies
From the Back Cover
In Quest for Conception, Marcia C. Inhorn portrays the poignant struggles of poor, urban Egyptian women and their attempts to overcome infertility. The author draws upon fifteen months of fieldwork in urban Egypt to present moving stories of infertile Muslim women whose tumultuous medical pilgrimages - or their "search for children", as they call their quests for conception - have yet to produce the desired pregnancies. Inhorn examines the devastating impact of infertility on the lives of these women, who are threatened with divorce by their husbands, harassed by their husbands' families, and ostracized by neighbors. Beliefs about procreation and infertility causation and cure among the Egyptian urban poor derive from a five-thousand-year history of shifting medical pluralism. Although colonially produced Western biomedicine is the dominant system in Egypt today, it represents only one of an array of therapeutic alternatives. Infertile women seek help from both "biogynecologists" (practitioners of Western biomedicine) and "ethnogynecologists" (practitioners of indigenous ethnomedicine), often using the remedies of both simultaneously. Quest for Conception examines in detail the variety of ethnomedical and biomedical treatments for infertility and concludes that treatments of both types are often ineffective and sometimes harmful. Given this untherapeutic setting, the future of infertile Egyptian women is explored in light of needed changes in reproductive health policy and the introduction of new reproductive technologies. Quest for Conception is the first comprehensive account of non-Western women's experiences of infertility and is a novel study within the literature on Middle Easternwomen.